It is now four days since the blow up in the Perth Glory dressing room following their defeat to Melbourne Victory and the situation has still yet to be ratified, and to the annoyance of many fans, members and sponsors is still dragging on.
Yesterday training was cancelled as the CEO met with coach Alistair Edwards and captain Jacob Burns to try and resolve the issue that were aired in front of the whole playing squad on Friday evening.
Everyone involved with the club received an email advising them that they were not to talk to media without gaining permission from Media Manager Nathan Chapman and CEO Jason Brewer. They were also warned to be careful what they said on social media. This last comment was obviously aimed at goalkeeper Danny Vukovic who tweeted his support for captain Jacob Burns over the weekend. Surely such a message should have been sent out on Friday evening?
The handling of the situation is a very poor reflection on the club as a whole. It should had been nipped in the bud at the latest Saturday morning. Without a media manager on hand in Melbourne there was no one there to give any form of statement to the press explaining the non-appearance of the coach at the press conference. That being the case the coach should have been met at the airport on his arrival back in Perth and should have been given a statement to read and entertained no questions.
Sadly that did not happen and the coach used the opportunity to fire a broadside at his captain. This was not good. Burns was hung out to dry and had no right of reply. If he was upset with the lack of a chance to defend himself with the Match Review Panel he would no doubt have been furious that he was not afforded that opportunity on this occasion. That was no fair and was bound to have exacerbated the situation.
Over the past four days there has been no official statement from the club, which has meant the whole situation continues to fester. However while everyone in the club was sworn to silence, the owner was happy to come out and be interviewed. Again one cannot help that this was a time that Tony Sage should have refused to comment, and directed the enquiries to his CEO.
His comments have done little to calm the turbulent waters and if social media is a barometer have in fact inflamed speculation. The fact that the media in Australia runs to the club’s owner for comments shows how far Australian football has to travel, how often do you hear Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich or Manchester United’s owners the Glazer family talking to the press?
News started to leak from the club last night – again despite no official statement – that following a meeting of Burns, Edwards and CEO, Brewer, the coach was given a number of structural changes to his position that he had 24 hours to accept. It is believed that one of these is for him to attend weekly meetings to justify his team selection and strategy to a panel within the club. He would also no longer have carte blanche on transfers.
Football teams cannot be run by committee. By suggesting that a coach must justify his selections to a committee, panel, or whatever is a situation that is never going to work. A coach, like a manager in any job must be allowed to make decisions and his performance be judged on those decisions. If he no longer has control of his own destiny his position becomes untenable as ultimately he will be judged on decisions forced upon him.
Many believe that the ultimatum given to Edwards has been given with that view in mind, that he will find his position untenable and will tender his resignation today. A phone call made today by “Not The Footy Show” to an industrial relations specialist has implied that he may have grounds for “industrial bullying” should he be forced down that path. That of course would mean more untold publicity for the club. So is this really the best solution? Having a selection panel/committee approving the team line-up is bound to have many looking at the club with quizzical expressions.
It will no doubt be clear how this whole situation is going to play out in the next 24 hours. Hopefully lessons have been learned to ensure that nothing like this ever arises again, and if it does it is knocked on the head quickly and efficiently and a communication policy applies to all. Then again how was it allowed to fester for so long that it came to a head in the way that it did?
The way this whole episode has played out has left many to say the clubs war cry “No Guts, No Glory” has never been more appropriate.